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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Anybody want to pay $1,800 for a bike rack? Echo Park council is now taking orders

Bike racks remain under wraps

Earlier this year the Echo Park neighborhood council spent more than $1,00o for 10 bike racks to be installed in front of shops and restaurants.  But those “W”-shaped racks – which can accommodate five bikes each – remain wrapped up and stored in the neighborhood council office. Why? The council purchased the racks without first finding appropriate locations, and now council officials have learned that it might cost up to $1,800 in city fees to install each of the $110 bike racks.  That leaves the neighborhood council to not only find locations that meet city regulations but business owners willing to pay those city fees. That is going to be a tough sell.  “Nobody would pay $1,800 for a permit,” said Francisco Torrero, chairman of the neighborhood council’s Public Works, Parks and Land Use Committee.

But many shop owners never pay a dime to get a bike rack placed outside their businesses through a city program that installs them for free. “I wish the Neighborhood Council had contacted us first as we could have provided our racks in the area at no cost,” said city Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery.

The bike issue came up during this week’s meeting of the  Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council”s planning committee, the unwrapped bike racks sitting a  few feet away in a storage room.  “You are now having to deal with something you didn’t think about before,” resident Ida Talallah told the committee members.

A planning committee member said the racks were purchased before the neighborhood council would have been forced to return unused funds back to the city.  Council President Jose Sigala later discovered that the cost of city permits to install such bike racks – which can accommodate up to five bikes – can total up to $1,800 per rack.

That nearly $1,800 in fees (see breakdown below) is what the city charges businesses and organizations that seek to install racks on their own. But the city also installs racks at locations that meet certain criteria through its Sidewalk Parking Program. The city’s U-shaped racks are smaller than what the Echo Park neighborhood council purchased and their supply is limited. But the racks are free.

Mowery offered up a potential, money-saving solution for the Echo Park council bike rack problem. “It sounds like their racks will be too big to install in the public right of way.  They could use our program and donate those racks to areas that would better accommodate a larger rack on private property like schools or churches or supermarkets with setbacks.”

How can it cost up to $1,800 in city fees to install a bike rack on a sidewalk?  Here is the break down of permit fees facing businesses and organizations that seek to install racks on their own:

  • Permit A:  Costs $260, plus 9% of the cost of the fee, plus a $95-an-hour inspector fee  per bike rack location.
  • Permit R:   Costs $1,284. “Grant{s} conditional encroachment of the public right-of-way.”

 

33 comments

  1. gross oversight whilst playing with taxpayer money? WHAT A SURPRISE.

  2. Mowery, not Lowery.

  3. Retards in office……..

  4. If the racks are too big, then that’s the end of it right there. However, since the neighborhood council is a quasi government body anyway, I don’t see why city crews couldn’t just install the racks sans the encroachment permits.

  5. Craiglist…

  6. spend first, plan later. nice job guys!

  7. How about working with the agency that installs them for free, and donating the racks to the program. Win-win?

  8. Geez…LADOT doesn’t do many things right, but their bike rack program is one of them. And the LADOT racks are better than these wave racks. Yes, these theoretically fit more bikes, but they are substandard when it comes to locking up your bike (it’s best to have two points of contact for the frame against the rack, to both make sure that the bike doesn’t fall over, and to offer two spots where the bike can be secured–these only offer one).

    PS–the racks are “W” shaped in the photo, but they’re upside down. When installed, they would be “M” shaped. Like this:
    http://www.uline.com/images/product/Medium/H_2543_M.jpg

  9. Thank you all for your creative solutions and comments.

    I agree we should have planned it out much better however the intention remains genuine to assist with the encouragement of our neighbors to leave their cars at home and ride their bikes to patronize our local businesses.

    Although the board voted to approve the funding and purchase the bike racks I take responsibility as President of the Board for the lack of proper planning.

    I have been talking to various city departments about a solution and hopefully we can find one that will work to accomplish our goals.

    I want to note that I take exception with the comments by @MR LA. My 11 year old twins know better than to use such a word to describe people.

    I am very proud to serve with a fantastic group of community leaders who give of their time as volunteers to work on projects and programs and who advise our city leaders on ways we can improve the quality of life for our neighbors.

    I invite @ MR LA to come and meet them and then form an opinion about their character, intelligence, commitment and dedication to our neighborhood.

    I am excited about finding a solution to this problem and making Echo Park a better place to live and further our commitment of a biker friendly community because of it.

    If anyone would like to contact me directly, you can reach me at 213-308-2826 or by email at jose_sigala@yahoo.com

    Sincerely,

    JOSE SIGALA

  10. bike racks in echo park are still a good idea. i hope that one version or another will be installed before too long

  11. Seems to me the problem is the city regulation that charges $1800 to install bike racks. That’s insane.

    No wonder this city can’t get more people to ride bikes…

    Oh Los Angeles. When will you learn? Oh right… twenty years after everybody else.

  12. I wonder if the city has to pay those same fees when installing PARKING METERS and No Parking Signs? Those ALSO encroach on “Public Right of Way.” City Permits are some BS! We need someone to challenge or change this policy for the better of the community.

  13. since you are inviting us to form an opinion about your intelligence you probably ought to know:
    you take exception TO comments, not with them. you disagree WITH comments and take offense AT them.

  14. @ Jose. Please keep me posted about any solution. Look forward to seeing those bike racks put to use.

  15. There are racks like this outside Fresh&Easy on Lake in Pasadena and unfortunately, they’re not being used the right way. People are putting their bikes parallel to the rack so it handles only two…not the five intended.
    Almost defeats the purpose of them but I can understand why people would use it that way, given the comments on securing the bike to the stand.

  16. A bike rack outside of chango, on the private property there, would be a great location. Granted I can still keep my vespa’s parked there.

  17. Can you please put one in front of Vons? They currently only have this chintzy bike rack on the side of their building that only allows one wheel — and not the frame — to be locked. Any bike parked at this rack would be vulnerable to theft, which is probably why I’ve never seen it used. I have seen bikes left inside the front entrance, which is what I do when there’s a security guard around. However, the guard isn’t always around, so I walk my bike through the store.

    I’ve talked to a store manager about this, and even contacted their corporate office, but so far there’s been no action.

  18. Tanks Rayn.

  19. @gabriele–that’s a problem with wave racks. They promise more spots for bikes, but the best way to lock a bike to them–with the bike parallel–is not how it is intended to be used–with the bikes perpendicular, through the “wave”. The drawback of parking your bike as you are “supposed” to with the wave racks mean there is an increased likelihood of your bike tipping over and hitting other bikes. It may not seem like a huge deal, but there could be scratches, dings, not to mention potential problems with your drivetrain.

    @Josh–note that $1800 is “up to”$1800, and that is for organizations wishing to install a rack on their own. As it was said in the post, LADOT can install bike racks for free when requested by a citizen or business:
    http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/ladot-sidewalk-parking-program/

  20. Im sure the citizens of Echo Park understand the oversight, like the homeless, the hungry, yea their good with the mistake….. and Mr JOSE SIGALA, whats the difference between an $1800 bike rack and a $250 bike rack, NOTHING>>>>>

  21. Hating to point out the obvious, but, OK I will. If the NC had a Planning and Land Use Committee that had qualified members, this would never have happened. The Bike rack program has been going on for years (Masa, was one of the first EP Chamber Members to take advantage of it). Anyway, glad to hear the mea culpas, however, the NC needs to get back on the bike so to speak and recruit qualified individuals to serve on their committees to avoid more incidents like this one.
    PL

  22. This is what’s wrong with our city. The city should be able to find people to install all of these bike racks for $1000. I’m sure I could find someone to do it right now on Craigslist… Hell, I’m sure people in the community would volunteer to do it for free!

    Shame on you city of LA…

  23. Bike racks are a great idea, but once again this neighborhood council seems to have things SDRAWKCAB.

    Taxpayers paid for a phone system and a website which stakeholders can use to contact members of this NC, Mr. Sigala. Why do you keep referring to your personal telephone number and e-mail address?

  24. Jose Sigala, President, GEPE Neighborhood Council now asks for solutions. Perhaps, the better solution would have been if he and the Board had openly invited the whole community in a discussion on how the funds awarded by the City (to benefit community) were to be used at the onset and how organizations could apply for these funds for Board review and allocation. With GEPENC , the process remains somewhat a mystery as to why the Budget Allocation is the sole purview of the President with the Board merely engaged in the formality of voting. The City’s allocation in 2010-2011 was $45,000.00 and in 2011-2012 $40,500.00 . Was it the the City’s intent that the President only deploy funds?
    In April 2011, the President called for a Special Board meeting that only requires 24 hour notice of meeting to public. At this meeting, there was no information on request details available and the elected Treasurer, scrambling to make sense of
    account deductions and budget requests as the President called off the figures for intended projects, many of which were new items. The Meeting was hastily fabricated
    to thwart the Cityfrom taking over unexpended funds. The City had done so in the previous year and this was almost a given again very early on, thereby making timelines for intended use critical. However, when April rolled around this fact seemed
    to capture the attention of the President. The bike rack was awarded funds in April (2011). This is November, some eight months later …Where is the elected District Rep
    who requested the racks ? What effort was made to secure details and complete the project? As of now it looks as if money that could have been meaningfully used in the
    community has been needlessly held hostage as the President fields questions…….
    Perhaps readers might want to ask why despite diligent efforts by the elected Treasurer (also Executive Committee member) has had difficulty convening Budget and Finance Committee Meetings or securing paperwork to meet City compliance requirements. Could the problem lie in the manner all committee appointments are made by the President, including his own appointment as Vice Chair to the Budget and Finance Committee? Given, that the City is exploring the postponement of NC elections from 2012 to 2014, and the fact that the Board early on included “no term limits” in its By Laws, presents a major drawback for the community intent on wanting changes for the appropriate and transparent allocation of funds awarded by the City
    or for that matter any changes!

  25. Geez.

    It’s real simple> A mistake was made and acknowledged. The solution is easy> Ebay/craigslist the racks, then have LADOT install free ones.

    Why the big deal? My gawd….

  26. Or they might even be able to return the racks to the supplier minus a restocking fee….

  27. No term limits????? Sounds like this neighborhood council has some serriou issues.

  28. Its simple. The department lose the funding if they don’t spend it. Infact, their budget get cut for the new fiscal year if funds remain on the account. As a result of this broken rule, we get friveless spending on unnecessary items and “project” waste.

    On a side note just give the damn thing to LADot or Rec and Parks and be done with it. Stop wasting time and money on city counsel meetings because no one will go. No one will vote. The cycle of bad budget will continue and nothing will ever change.

    On a side note just give the damn thing to ladot

  29. Jay:

    Perhaps a good idea…however, Neighborhood Councils are not allowed to make
    donations nor engage in fundraising. The restrictions are plain and simple.
    Paced expenditures and a sharp eye on timelines is required as are spread sheets.
    However, simple mindfulness is not the hallmark of this NC or for that matter
    any NC. Furthermore, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment/Empower
    LA is lax on compliance and has done little to hold NC accountable to paced
    expenditure. Beat the Clock takes a whole other meaning here….

  30. I demand a full investigation. This feels funny.

  31. Who was it that came up with the term “funny money”?

    A possible solution might be found. The City Attorney should be consulted again.
    In 2009, I think, the NC purchased some tickets for a sporting event to give away to lucky stakeholders……
    However, the City Attorney indicated that would constitute a “donation” and disallowed the give-away. Instead, the City Attorney’s office suggested that the NC hold a meeting and give away the tickets to those attending. As such, a meeting notice was posted with a full agenda of concerns ( same as for a meeting held earlier) and that was the last heard on the tickets as Minutes were never posted.
    Perhaps if Recreation and Parks placed a request for bicycle racks, a solution might be found.
    If all fails, the City Attorney’s office might be consulted.

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